Why are we still talking about SharePoint governance?
I just read a great article about the relationship between corporate governance, it governance and at the end of the day; SharePoint governance. Your can read it yourself at Eduard’s blog.
This article introduces one of the major challenges we have with creating a well working governance practice for SharePoint;
Why are we constantly talking about SharePoint governance at all? It’s just another system in our heterogeneous it environment!
Yes – it is. But the thing is that SharePoint – as a platform – provides a set of services that enables the business to do certain things. The same is true for the phone system and the email system. But with SharePoint you may very well end up enabling the business in ways that you have never thought of. The value-proposition of SharePoint is exactly about enablement. You enable people to collaborate, to store information and documents in new ways, to share data with users that may not be under your absolute control… And many more things…
What this means, is that you – as a service provider of SharePoint services – end up in a hard dilemma.
You can choose to either to:
- lock down your services to provide a controllable and well defined service
- accept that the foundation of your services must be able to scale – in several dimensions – to keep up with ever changing business requirements and requests
Well – the first one seems to be the obvious choice for it operations. But this is also the choice that locks down the vast amount of opportunities SharePoint can – and will – provide to the business. So the second strategy will give you a much better value proposition – if managed.
Not a lot of the other IT systems will require you to make that choice. This is why we need to keep a focusing on SharePoint governance – moving forward. Enabling the business to take full advantage of the functionality in the SharePoint platform, will – without a doubt – take you to places where you did’nt expect.
An example; a client of mine are using a structured guideline to manage images for use in their intranet. SharePoint image libraries are excellent for that and provide functionality out of the box that have never been available for the corporate communication department. So – for the communication people it makes a lot of sense to use the same functionality for images for print and advertising as well. All this can now be tracked in relation to campaigns, printed materials, markets etc. Great! But – not so great… Luckily we had a policy in place for managing images in this particular application, and when the relevant controls ran, we could identify that the system was no longer compliant with the policy and we could address the issue. The risk here is naturally, that the storage design was not planned for the hundreds of gigabyte of high resolution images and the system would potentially break or performance would degrade.
This example shows, how business people like to solve relevant challenges with whatever tool they have at hand. And SharePoint enables them to do exactly that! The risk is, that operations dont have a chance to foresee these solutions and therefore there is a special need for specific governance rules and controls.
I am using a framework designed especially for SharePoint governance, built on some of the principles of COBIT. Using a governance framework (this on is called SharePoint Governance Framework – to make it simple) is a way to build structure and proces around managing something that you dont really know what is (referring to the example above). No framework – no even the one I am using 😉 – is guarantied to catch every single challenge or risk. You have to do the work yourself and keep focusing on driving it. Remember; SharePoint Governance is a practice – not a document.